Sunday, August 23, 2009

Raising the Bar.

According to Romans 8:2, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

I've been thinking about this verse lately. It is a blessing to be set free from a law that condemned instantaneously, a law where punishments were dolled out openly even to the extent of stoning a rebellious child (Deut. 21:18). We are freed from a law justifying an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth.

With this knowledge though, I don't like thinking that our new faith system, a faith of limitless grace and mercy, is easier or a fluffy version of the past. In fact, I think the opposite is true.

We were rescued from a law that we couldn't follow. We inevitably would break it. We did. Christ came to offer grace to us because we are fallible and we need grace. With this knowledge I don't believe we should consider ourselves free of trying to obey. In many ways, I feel Christ raised the bar. He internalized the law.

Instead of shooting someone in the back...we are guilty of malicious slander or hate.
Instead of cheating on our spouses...we are guilty of staring down Hollywood hotties.
Instead of bowing down to a golden calf...we are guilty of busy schedules, missed worship services and bowing to self.
Instead of stealing our neighbors cow...we are guilty of nabbing hotel towels.
Instead of remembering the sabbath...we over-extend ourselves 'till we can't serve.

Because we have grace, it is easy to not expect much of ourselves. When in reality the bar was raised to include our heart's intent. I never want to excuse myself from obedience because I fake myself into believing that I've been freed of it or that I'll be forgiven anyway.

If we love Him...we'll love the unlovable even when they don't love us back.
If we love Him...we'll be faithful to our spouses physically, emotionally, and mentally.
If we love Him...we'll rearrange everything in our lives and put Him first.
If we love Him...we'll raise the bar.

Consider this...Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God (1 Peter 2:16).

The old law foreshadows the intent of the heart in Deuteronomy 10:12-13. "What does the Lord your God want from you? The Lord wants you to respect and follow him, to love and serve him with all your heart and soul, and to obey his laws and teachings that I am giving you today. Do this, and all will go well for you." My guess is God knew our hearts would be the problem. Our actions simply follow suit.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Old Tupperware and Clay Pots.

My Tupperware drawer is where plastic goes to die. I'm embarrassed to tell you that it is one of the most disorganized storage locations in my house. It is safe to say that I have one hundred various sized plastic bowls, and at least fifty percent are damaged, stained, or missing a lid. I've been eyeing those neat little stacks of self contained plastic ware for months at Target, but haven't given in to buying them. I guess I'd rather empty out an entire drawer every night and attempt an archaeological dig to find a suitable location for leftover Manwich. I recently put left over chicken in a plastic bowl and covered it with foil before I even attempted the lid search. The foil covered the top, but in the morning my fridge smelled like dinner. I remember my mom had a green Tupperware salad keeper that had been so marred by time that it had a hole melted through it. She kept it. It must be genetic. Clearly, there is a better way, as I'm sure most of you have already replaced the crazy plastic pile with neatly organized storage containment systems. Not I.

This morning I came across a verse that brought a smile to my face...

We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

~2 Corinthians 4:7-10

There are those days when I resemble my Tupperware drawer. My disheveled mess of a life does not reveal my true potential. I am marred by time. I am missing important pieces. These are the days that I don't feel like much of an example for the cause of Christ.

When I think of the metaphor within 2 Corinthians 4 that compares us to jars of clay, I realize that sometimes we allow our imperfections to define us. Our frailties and our inadequacies fake us into believing that we can do nothing for the cause or sake of Him who made us. We miss the point. He works through our missing lids. He works through our brokenness and weaknesses. You see, it isn't about me; the clay pot...the old green Tupperware. It is about who lives in me.

In every way this life on earth will try to bring us down. It will try to silence us by pointing out every flaw we have. We may feel purposeless. In our exhaustion, we may want to give up and go find a dark place to hide. Yet, He is still there waiting to use us, waiting to shine through.

For so long I believed that a true Christian looked a certain way, dressed a certain way, and talked a certain way. I don't believe that anymore. God has called ALL people to serve Him. God has called all broken, stained, old, young, misplaced, forgotten, hurt, wounded, ugly, poor people to serve Him; to reveal Him through their brokenness. When you consider what lies within, the outside no longer matters much. Let Him out. Reveal what treasure you hold. Don't let your past or your inadequacies continue to hold back the glory of God. That is what lives within you; the glory of God in a simple jar made of clay.

Our exterior does not define us. He does.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Where do you go to church?

the church of tradition,
the church of my roots,
the church of my parents,
the church of my friends,
the church of playtime,
the church that's over in fifteen minutes,
the church that serves lunch,
the church of gossips,
the church of my social class,
the church of my color,
the church of social hour,
the church that serves,
the church that prays,
the church where they dress nice,
the church where I can wear jeans,
the church where they are nice to me,
the church where I'm important,
the church that plays,
the church that is right,
the church that rebels,
the church with the best music,
the church that doesn't sing too much,
the church where the cute guy goes,
the church where the hot girl is,
the church where I don't feel lonely,
the church where my kids are happy,
the church that's down the street,
the church that feeds the hungry,
the church that kicks them out,
the church that won't make me do anything,
the church that requires much,
the church that everyone else goes to,
the church with the new building,
the church that makes me feel good,
the church that makes me think,
the church that . . .

Maybe that's the wrong question.

Why do we worship?
Who do we worship?

Sometimes I feel confused. Sometimes I feel our motivation is all wrong. Is it more about us than Him? Is it all about our comfort, our wants, our needs? The arguments of the past are null and void. Have we forgotten our first love?

To be honest...I don't feel where is the issue at all. It's who.

If we don't know Whom we worship, then it's not worship at all.
The where fails to impress as soon as you consider who.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Let's just keep it civilized.

It is so ironic and comical that while I work on improving myself with further education in the hopes of being a sophisticated professional someday soon, that my life is just the opposite. One minute I'm trying to absorb The Legal Traditions of the World , my current textbook, and the next minute I hear screams of disgust coming from my daughter regarding my completely naked two year old that is using our backyard as a toilette.

I don't really understand the genetic trait that courses through the veins of my boys that inspires their love of nudity. I don't really recall any relatives that joined those "special" beach resorts that require no clothing. What I really don't get is why this liberating, albeit refreshing, experience must be had in the open air of the front or back yard while the neighbors ogle and wonder where the crazy lady is who cares for these exhibitionists.

Most of the time I'm trying to write thought provoking material for class I start to hear the lyrics from Yo Gabba Gabba in my head. There have even been several times where I've considered citing Dr. Seuss in a paper because suddenly one of the lines from The Cat and the Hat relate so clearly to cultural conflicts.

Days like these make me wonder if I can truly make it in the real world after so many years of chasing naked miniature people. Is there a place in this world for a recovering stay-home-mom? It will seem strange to go through days at a time without potty predicaments and nosy neighbors noting nakedness.